SINGAPORE: Forty-one suspects were arrested or investigated in Hong Kong and Singapore for their involvement in transnational job scams, said the Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Tuesday (Jun 29).
Fourteen alleged "core members" of the scam syndicate, which operated from Hong Kong, were arrested by Hong Kong Police between Jun 16 and Jun 18 over 134 cases of jobs scams in Hong Kong that involved HKD 9 million (S$1.56 million).
Another 27 people were arrested by the Singapore police for their suspected involvement in job scams.
"Preliminary investigations indicated that they had allegedly facilitated in bank transfers, funds withdrawals, or had relinquished their bank accounts to the scam syndicate," said SPF.
In a news release, SPF said it has seen a rise in the number of job scam cases in recent months.
"In these scams perpetuated by the Hong Kong syndicate, the syndicate would post advertisements for jobs promising quick cash on different social media platforms," said SPF.
The job would require the victims - job seekers - to assist in "improving the sales of online platforms", which included Taobao, HKTV Mall, and "some malicious mobile apps", added SPF.
The victims would then be told to make payments by transferring funds to different bank accounts. In return, they were promised reimbursements of the full sum, with 5 per cent to 12 per cent commissions.
In the initial stages, the scammers would purportedly reimburse the victims and pay them commissions to convince them that it was a legitimate job. This was also done to "induce them" to deposit increasingly larger sums of money to earn more commission, said Singapore police.
"At this point, the scammers would promise commissions only after a certain number of tasks had been completed and would delay payments," said SPF.
"The victims would only realise they had fallen prey to a scam when they did not receive the subsequent reimbursements and commissions."
READ: Singapore and Malaysia police bust transnational Internet love scam syndicate in joint investigation
INVESTIGATIONS AND ARRESTS
The Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Police Intelligence Department and seven land divisions of the SPF, together with the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force, had "jointly crippled" the transnational job scam syndicate, said SPF.
SPF managed to detect potential victims who could have received unsolicited texts, WhatsApp and Telegram messages from the alleged scammers.
Since May 20, the CAD's Anti Scam Centre has contacted more than 660 potential victims to advise them of these job scams, said SPF.
The centre has also terminated more than 270 phone numbers and frozen more than 80 bank accounts suspected to be linked to these scams.
"IF IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS"
CAD's director David Chew said the transnational crime syndicate targeted unsuspecting victims in "many jurisdictions", including Singapore.
"In this instance, they had enticed potential job seekers with promises of highly paid jobs that allowed them to work-from-home," said Mr Chew.
SPF will continue collaborating "closely" with its counterparts to detect and deter such syndicates, which "exploit the anonymity of the Internet", he added.
Members of the public are advised that e-commerce platforms will never ask anyone to transfer money on the promise of a refund with a commission.
"If it is too good to be true, it probably is. Do not accept dubious job offers that offer lucrative returns for minimal effort," said SPF.
People who are randomly invited into a messaging application group chat, which they suspect is promoting a scam, should report the group chat using the in-app function.
"If possible, always verify the authenticity of the job with the official websites or sources; and do not click on suspicious URLs or download applications from unknown sources," SPF added.